Hood River is at about mile 63 on Highway 84, east of Portland. If you’re looking for a little getaway in the summer or fall, this is a great destination. It’s perfect for a day trip from Portland, or a week or a weekend! Hood River is a super windsurfer HQ, and it’s fun to go out to the Columbia and watch them flying across the waves. There’s a lovely little historic downtown with a brewery, lots of restaurants, and some wine tasting spots. There are all kinds of places to stay, from the historic Columbia Gorge Hotel and other hotels to B&B’s (our friends Joel and Kelly recently stayed at the Sakura Ridge Farm B&B and raved about it) to campgrounds like Toll Bridge County Park, which is right on the river.
But the thing I like best about Hood River is the fruit. This is a rich farming area, the leading place for growing pears in the country, and filled with other fruits of all kinds as well. There are strawberry fields, cherry orchards, apple orchards, blueberry farms, general produce spots, fields of lavender and even an alpaca farm. There are also some vineyards and wineries.
Thirty of the farms in the area are part of the county’s Fruit Loop. This detailed map provides information about each farm, since not all the farms’ names are explicit about what they’ve got for sale. As you drive the loop you not only get good fruit and perhaps some tasty wines, some places also sell jams, jellies, ciders and other treats for your tastebuds like baked goods (pie, anyone?!). The fruit is always excellent quality and the prices are also very good. Since the fruit doesn’t have to be trucked anywhere, the farmers can pass those savings on to you. In the area, you can find a detailed brochure as well at nearly every shop, restaurant, hotel, etc.
But what am I going to do with all this fruit, you ask? We usually buy some to eat and some to freeze, and applesauce for winter is a must for me. You can find the recipe for the easiest applesauce ever over at my friend Sara’s blog, Go Gingham. I tried it, and it works! Blueberries require no effort whatsoever to freeze. Well, you do have to bag them up, but really, that’s it. Blueberries are one of the 14 “superfoods,” and and are great in oatmeal or, of course, pancakes all year. You can freeze apple pie filling for a luscious winter treat, too. And apples and pears, the fruits most readily available in the fall, last a long time if you keep them in a cool, dry place.
We buy our blueberries at Montavon’s Berries. They have u-pick in summer, and the berries are ginormous and so delicious. Plus their cows are super cute!
We bought our apples and pears this year at Kiyokawa Family Farms. Jeff has eaten a delicious honeycrisp apple every day since we went, and I’ve made lots of applesauce and some pie fillings with honeycrisps and gravensteins. YUM!
And not to be missed are the yummy eat right now treats like huckleberry milkshakes or (perhaps I’ve mentioned) PIE!!!! I had nectarine pie – one of the best pies I’ve ever had – and Jeff had huckleberry. I could have eaten a whole pie there at the Apple Valley Country Store! And they do sell whole pies, fresh out of the oven, no less (thanks for the modeling, Rhonda!). Do those look delicious or what?? My mouth is watering looking at this picture!
Have a favorite fruitstand on the Fruit Loop? Share your secret in the comments. If you’ve never checked out the Fruit Loop, it’s definitely a fun way to spend a day, and Hood River is worth some exploring, too. Get out there while the apples and pears are at their peak!
Enjoy your week or your weekend!